Arts News

Pounding the Streets of Sundance

Last year I spent more quality drinking time at the many parties QSaltLake was invited to attend, especially those hosted by Queer Lounge. This year however, I’ve only been to Outfest’s (L.A.’s film festival group) annual brunch on Sunday, Jan. 18.

It was held at the Grub Steakhouse, as last year, but this time it wasn’t nearly as claustraphobic. There was actually room to dance on the small dance floor. Chris Lemon (Vapid Lovelies) and the cast and crew of Mississippi Damned (including Michael David Kelley of Lost) took eager advantage of it and danced off the heavy calorie intake of sweet rolls, bagels and fruit served at “the brunch.” It’s quite possible that such a benign serving of food could easily intensify the affects of the open bar consumption by more than just Michael Aaron. He’s so damn cute when he’s had a couple!


Also this year, and by the end of the fesitvals, I will have seen more films than I did last year, which is really the point — not the parties like Demi Moore’s annual birthday party; not the star sightings like Zooey Deschanel, Kevin Bacon, Jane Lynch; not the bling bling, in fact as I was shopping for bling to wear to the festival, I found a black T-shirt that read: fcuk fashion. I nearly bought it, but was afraid I’d be ostracized. I’m such a wuss.

I’ve seen a dozen or so short films so far. My favorites being James, about a young teenager coming to terms with his homosexuality by frequenting public restrooms; Countertransference, about a homely lesbian with self-esteem issues and her awkward therapy sessions; and Instead of Abracadabra, about twentysomething Tomas who still lives with his parents and dreams of becoming a great magician, though his abilities could be terminally dangerous.

Certainly I should include Frank Feldman’s Slamdance entry Vapid Lovelies as one of my favorites even though I’ve only seen a screnner of it and not on the big screen. However, the word on the street is Feldman and his posse have been invited to submit it for screening in a well-known international film festival.

So far I’ve seen two feature-length films, Unmade Beds and Humpday. The first is a UK film written and directed by Alexis Dos Santos. Twenty-year-old Santos moves to London in search of the father who abandoned him when he was three years old. However, he arrives penniless and jobless, however, he somehow manages to frequent clubs and get so drunk, he doesn’t remember anything about the night before. He’s befriended and taken in by an “underground polyglot squat of free spirits.” While dealing with his attraction to the boy who brought him in, Axl also struggles with introducing himself to his long-lost father. The film is low budget, the writing cursory, the acting fair and the soundtrack outstanding. The single “Hot Monkey, Hot Ass” by Black Moustache is a catchy tune.

Humpday, on the other hand, is well-written: smart and witty. Lynn Shelton’s (screenwriter/director) third feature is a comic delight. Ben (Mark Duplass) and Andrew (Joshua Leaonard) are old college buddies that, for the past 10 years, have lead completely different lives: Ben, the domestic life of a loyal, abiding husband; Andrew, the failing gypsy artist life. When Andrew shows up unannounced on Ben’s doorstep, Ben’s wife Anna’s dismay of the uncomprehensible male is the center of a 90-minute testosterone-driven romp into the pysche of the heterosexual male and his ability to bond with the same sex. During a Dionysian party, involving booze and bong hits, Andrew and Ben decide to make an “artistic” amateur porn film, but they would have to “draw straws” to see which one would “bone the shit” out of the other. As the fateful “action” draws nearer, Shelton emanates an uncanny perception of the male ego, one that is spirited and funny, without being condescending. This film is a must-see for gay and straight alike.

Perhaps the current economic stranglehold and the ‘call to boycott’ have had some affect over the festivals this year, but the overall energy is still high, the filmmaking risky, the parties festive and there’s plenty of faux fur. So make your way up to Park City before the Sundance Film Festival ends Jan. 25.

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